NINE ELEMENTS FOR THE GAME OF QUASIMODO // 02. 1993.
NEDZAD BEGOVIC // FILM DIRECTOR
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1993

Nedzad Begovic
Film director
NINE ELEMENTS FOR THE GAME OF QUASIMODO

‘My wife had some origami books. It’s a Japanese paper game. So we made some and taught the children, The idea being to give them something to do, to organize their time. I knew that those squares of paper with geometric folding could make cranes, you know birds, cats and so on. Then I began to work out some geometrically regular relationships of the shapes of the paper, I mean, geometrically folded and we got to 15, 14 and in the end I got to 9 elements. Because as I simplified the game I came to these 9 elements and called the game Quasimodo, in fact because of an ordinary appearance and because of the strong internal forces which the game has to offer. I realized that those 9 elements when they were folded in different ways could produce all letters and all numbers of turkeys, cats, houses, some geometrical forms and so on.’

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FEBRUARY 1993


• The Geneva negotiations move to New York.
• Sarajevo is surrounded by five rings :
1. The Bosnian Serb Army 2.The UN 3. The HVO 4. The black market 5. The current government


• The Bosnian Serbs shell mourning processions, funerals and hospitals in Sarajevo.
• Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic church in BiH, meets with the Pope. From Sarajevo he conveys the Pope’s message to the world: “Stop the savagery, let humanity prevail!”


• Lord Robert Owen comes out against the USA, who had rejected a plan that favored the Bosnian Serbs.
• SUBNOR, an association of soldiers from the Second World War, makes an appeal to its members to fight against facism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and for communal life.
• Advice to patients: If you go to the clinic, bring a log, because the heating situation is critical.


• The city is struck by wartime hyperinflation .
• The International Center for Peace receives representatives from the Helsinki Citizens Forum from France who need to monitor the situation in Sarajevo, and then report to the European and world public whether civil society exists in Sarajevo.


• The UNHCR suspends flights.
• High schools begin to operate at neighborhood council centers, business premises, apartments.
• Radio “Studio 99” reports news on the division of the city. Panicked listeners contact the program. Vance-Owen mediators are in the city; this information originates from them.


• Killed and wounded lay on the airport runway. During the run across the tarmac UNPROFOR reflect lights on it, giving Bosnian Serbs the chance to aim at the moving target. Afterward UN procedures are followed – those caught are placed in UN vehicles and the blue-helmets take them back to wherever they came from.


• The best sportsmen are announced for BiH in '92: chess players Vesna Basagic and Ivan Sokolov.


• The City Assembly decides that Sarajevans, in a gesture of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia, will not accept humanitarian aid until a humanitarian convoy reaches Eastern Bosnia.


• The first wartime cinema opens, “Obala”. Screenings are held in Sarajevo basements.
• Because of the city government’s refusal to accept humanitarian aid, supplies are left lying on the airport runway. Pilots refuse to land because of the piles of undelivered food.


• “Oslobodjenje” is visited by Bianca Jagger.
• The UNHCR decides in Geneva: Government officials cannot be transported on UN planes. The previous month, Geneva had approved local reporters’ use of UN planes from the besieged city.
• The Civil Defense requests two containers from the city authorities to protect Sarajevans from snipers at intersections. The Civil Defense is unable to tow them because they have no fuel.


• Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), halts humanitarian aid to BiH, while the executive council sticks to its decision to refuse humanitarian aid out of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia. Once this decision is reversed the air bridge is reestablished.
• New York, February 20, 1993. The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a new resolution extending the mandate of the 13,000 blue-helmets in Croatia. This resolution provides for the temporary extension of the UN mandate through March 31st. Resolution 807 urges the UN Secretary General to provide additional arms in order to enhance defense capabilities and allows the use of arms in the event of an attack on the peacekeepers, under paragraph 7 of the UN Charter. In addition, the temporary extension of the mandate includes the same tasks as the previous two terms, meaning the neutralization of heavy arms and the corresponding withdrawal of warring sides.


• “Oslobodjenje” proclaimed the world’s newspaper of the year.
• The information blockade of TVBiH is broken – the programming includes Studio Zenica live during the TV news.


• At gatherings across the world, amid protests against the impotence of the EC and UN to halt the bloody aggression in Bosnia, posters appear: “In Bosnia, Europe dies”.
• New York, February 22, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts a new resolution on the formation of an international court for war crimes within the territory of the former Yugoslavia. According to the text of the resolution, all war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia from the first of January 1991 will be reviewed. All those charged with war crimes, mass killings and rapes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity will be brought before this court.
• The executive council of the city halts the boycott of humanitarian aid.
• The “Alsace shipment” arrives in Sarajevo. It is at the time the largest humanitarian convoy to arrive in Sarajevo.


Games

Cards
The basic mode of comradeship during the long winter nights. Takes place on staircases where it was the first possibility for frightened neighbors to finally meet each other. For those who know how to play and win, it becomes part of a survival- struggle. No one plays for money, but for a lunch packet, canned fish, liter of oil - that is serious capital!

Billiards
Banned in the nineteenth century, today it is the favorite time-killer for the jobless, school-less people. Some of them might become world champions.

Pinball machines
Work, despite the lack of electricity. Their owners learned how to solve that minor problem.

Children’s games
Counting of grenades fired on the City, trimming fallen trees, collecting bullets, shells...Exchange of collections.

Speed
Dismantling the parts of abandoned cars and taking them away into ‘security’. Rule of the game: as quickly as possible. No age limits.

Ladies’ talk
Exchange of war recipes: who can prepare better meal made of nothing!?

Nedzad Begovic
He was born in 1958. He is a film director who graduated from the Law College. He has made 25 films in non- professional production and won 20 awards. In professional production he realized a dozen animated, documentary and short-feature films, as well as a TV serial with 30 episodes. He received awards for his films at the festivals in Krakow, Stuttgart, Belgrade and Oberhausen...

THE SIEGE
He filmed five documentaries, wrote two screenplays for feature films, created a cartoon and an album of comics. He is the author of the book “Quasimondo,” which was produced by the New York Museum of Contemporary Art and by Georges Pompidu in Paris. As one of the members of SAGA’s project SA-LIFE, he received the collective awards “Eyes of the Earth,” “Golden Grain Earth,” “Bafta” and “Felix”.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
I would like to be Superman for purely political reasons.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness is senseless like a surplus of money.

What is you biggest loss?
I never experienced something that I would call the greatest loss.

What is your biggest gain?
God’s gift - I am always in love.

When and where were you happiest?
Twice in the maternity and on my own premiers.

What are your lost illusions?
The justice in the world does not exist, the essence is in force.

Describe your day at work.
I always work, even when I am in a pub or in the theater, in the street. I am parent even in my dreams, and that’s part of my day at work.

Sarajevo?
I remember a photo: a great oil stain has got to a bird. The bird tries to pull out of the stain. It is the only sign of life in the stain. That’s how it is with Sarajevo and with Bosnia. Everything else is just a stain.

What words don’t you use anymore?
American national interests, human rights, principles, United Nations, EC, NATO, Russia, Moscow, babushka, Miterand, kazachok, Owen, English general, Kremlin, Michael Rose, super powers, Volga, Boutros Ghali, Akashi, Russian salad, Cyrillic, balalaika...

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Philosophically YES, from experience NO.

Where would you like to live?
Sarajevo...and never anywhere else.

How have you survived?
To be honest, I had no choice, I survived and that’s it.

What are you afraid of?
I may fear for my family.

Does the past exist for you?
Of course. All the way back to 1958, when I was born.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
I don’t know everything that Darwin has thought of.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
I always thought that recipes were given to the mentally ill.

How would you like to die?
On time...maybe...like Hemingway...any way...I...on time.

Do you need hope to live?
No, I need freedom.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
1992-hell, 1993-horror, 1994-terrible.

How would you call this period of your life?
High inner temperature with strong doses of adrenaline.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
To politicians I wish that they can finally grow balls in the black hole.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I don’t feel like answering this last question.

TRSCANSKA STREET

Located on Marijin Dvor it was the place where the greatest number of Sarajevans was hit by sniper fire For a while the citizens were protected from fire by large cement blocks. After the February 1994 market massacre the UN Security Council ordered the removal of the aggressors’ weapons from around the city and the blocks were removed from the city streets. However, in 1995 they were put back.

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